This section is designed to help you forge an amazing story and build your thinking on the value proposition. First, I’ll suggest some activities you can do yourself to get into the right mindframe.
Next, we’ll look at stakeholder involvement. Finally, there’s a workshop template to get you going.
You can also look at appendix 1.1
‘How to craft a story’ for a narrative template that works every time.Self
Avoid the temptation to look at the competition.
Avoid the pressure to deliver a revamped narrative ‘quickly’.
Instead: get in the mindset that this is a long-term, strategic position.
Brand is making a huge comeback in B2B. Outbound marketing and demand generation still matter, of course. But a powerful brand narrative that connects and resonates is hugely valuable. Read Peter Thiel’s Zero to One
book if you do not believe this to be true. He states that Brand is one of the four key pillars of creating a monopoly in your market.
Plan your attack properly.
- Which stakeholders do you need to speak to?
- When can you book time with these individuals? Create a timeline.
- What outcomes do you need to achieve?
- When is a realistic and achievable deadline for this?
- What are the key milestones? Micro-milestones?
Think of this as a campaign process, or a detailed project plan you need to deliver against. Have a process.
Take your time, plan thoroughly and involve everyone you need to. The more methodical and in-depth your approach, the better.
If you rush, the end result will be vanilla, and need constant revamping. It will not provide the foundations for a deeply meaningful proposition.Stakeholders
Every brand project includes different types of stakeholder belief sets.
You might have a CEO who believes in brand.
You might have a CEO who isn’t bothered, and values sales or short-term activities instead.
If your C-suite loves brand building,show them a vision of where you want to get to. You’re going to create a special narrative for our market.
- Suggest that your approach will get into the detail and this takes time to get right — but the end result will be a thorough overview of the brand position and GTM proposition.
- To get there, explain you’ll need to work internally, uncovering important cultural insights.
- You will develop deep external insights from customers or prospects. You will work to bring the internal and external into alignment for the truth.
- From there, you’ll have a hypothesis to test, with the input from the CEO.
- Even with a CEO who buys in, you still need to emphasise the seriousness of this project. Build confidence using the detailed plan. Getting into the detail and demonstrating you have the “right approach” is crucial for success.
If your C-suite aren’t sold on storytelling, position the value of the project very carefully, offering compelling reasons and a clear business case for brand building. Brand Marketing is now more important than ever. Demand Generation has stolen the limelight over the past 5-7 years to the detriment of the brand. I do believe the respect is now shifting back towards the brand.
The reason being is that a brand can 10x leverage your demand generation results, in a world of competitive markets with similar features; your brand can be the real differentiator that influences B2B purchase decisions. Look at the fastest scaling businesses in SaaS. You will notice the investment and effort into brand marketing.
Ideas to help influence your leadership team.
- Offer hard facts on storytelling and why it’s important.
- From the base of that, prove the upside of doing it properly and spending longer.
- You’re going to deliver something deeper and more meaningful, that will provide a platform to understand audiences, personas and clarity on sales strategy.
- Help them understand the difference between short-term Sales Activation and long-term Brand Building. With both streams required to run in parallel.
Getting stakeholder buy-in before
you begin any programme is 99% of the battle.
Spend the time explaining to those around you why this activity matters, and it will matter further down the line. Skip this step, and your execution in building the story, brand narrative and value proposition will be ineffective.Workshop template
This workshop can be used with any internal stakeholder group. For efficacy, we’d recommend no group is bigger than 6.
An output of beliefs for each of the participants.
A vision statement.
An understanding of purpose for each individual in the room.
A. Introduce the purpose of the brand story — links with commercial benefits (see 1.3) and longevity of business narratives that resonate with the customer.
B. Ask individuals to summarise their key beliefs around the business:
- What is their understanding of the key values in the business?
- What is their interpretation of the business purpose?
- How do they see the current brand?
- Detail prospect/ customer feedback to the group.
- Get members to self-actualise and reflect whether they believe the brand is ‘customer led’.
Collate these findings on a whiteboard.
C. Correlate findings together — matching up similar points and making suggestions around themes that emerge. Take a picture. Go away and build this into a mind-map or a brand proposition template.
D. Ask individuals or groups for their feedback on themes that emerge
- Do these themes resonate — if yes, find examples from day-to-day to support.
- Have we missed anything — what other issues might also feed in?
- Do the outputs match customer feedback and a customer led narrative?
Decide on next actions and how you will piece together the thread of the narrative. Be clear on what they will expect as an output. Which should be at minimum initial thinking on the brand architecture, high-level story and proposition to market. Remember to remind all stakeholders you are looking to really understand the challenge you solve for the customer and how you link to that.
Your brand should not be about how great your product is and the features. These are a sub-component of what helps your brand develop through the customer journey and value to users.
In order to create a real impact, I often recommend treating internal projects as if you are external. In this case pretend you are a brand consulting company. They get hired to build detailed and granular brand narratives. Your goal is to do the same. A real focus on the outputs of the project and treat your CEO as the stake-holder who commissioned the project. Your end goal is to pitch to your CEO.How do you take a story from meaningless to meaningful?
The answer is depth.
Look for numbers, statistics and customer proof points. Link these back to your corporate narrative. Find use cases and customer stories. These are critical components of the thread that link your story into a consumable proposition.
With brand the biggest mistake when building the story, proposition, messaging architecture and language boils down to depth. The depth at which you have uncovered insights internally, externally and broader market. I repeat that getting into the details is crucial. Unfortunately, most marketers or revenue leaders do not get into the details enough to build a truly resonating brand story and proposition.
Credibility factors (especially at mid-market to enterprise SaaS) are crucial to attracting leads, closing more deals and winning over competitors.